You can consider your search engine optimization (SEO) campaign a success if you’re able to attract more people to your site organically. For example, if you start with 100 monthly organic visitors, and you grow that number to 1,000 over the course of several months, most optimizers would take pride and call that a victory.
But what about the quality of those visitors? How can you be sure that those 1,000 people have an interest in your brand, or a need for your products, to begin with?
The Importance of Audience Targeting
You may be caught in the line of thinking that more is always better. In the case of SEO, more is often better; each new person that comes to your site is another potential chance to secure a conversion, and more outright brand exposure to build your reputation.
So let’s say the average visitor has a 20 percent chance of being interested in buying your product. You earn 1,000 visitors, so you’ll have 200 potential visitors interested in your product.
Now imagine your average visitor has a 50 percent chance of being interested, but you’re only able to attract 800—now, you have 400 potential visitors interested in your product, making the scenario with less total traffic the more valuable one for your brand.
Audience targeting is all about increasing that relevance, so every gain in volume is more significant to your bottom line.
Strategies for Audience Targeting in SEO
So how can you get better at audience targeting in an SEO campaign?
1. Find the right niche.
Your first job is to find the right niche. You need to make sure the audience you’ve selected is the one most valuable to you, which may require you to make a switch.
For example, New Zealand entrepreneur Sam Ovens was forced to target American visitors because of their higher propensity to convert and show interest in his services. Do some market research, conduct surveys, and ultimately settle on an audience that has the highest likelihood of being interested in your brand.
2. Segment your buying stages.
Next, you’ll want to segment your audience based on different stages of the buying cycle and update your site accordingly.
For example, you may want to shift your content to focus on customers who are just starting to build awareness that a problem exists, or you might shift to content that caters to people ready to buy (such as buying guides). It all depends on who you’re targeting and what your customer goals are.
3. Discover appropriate long-tail keyword phrases.
Once you have a target audience (and buying cycle stage) in mind, generate a list of long-tail keyword phrases, and start whittling them down based on those criteria.
Use a tool like SEMrush to competitively research those phrases, and pinpoint key topics for development that appeal to your target audience. If you’re having trouble, consider conducting a survey of your target audience to determine what kinds of content they’d like to see from you in the future.
4. Implement social listening.
Next, you can tap into social listening to learn more about who your customers are and what they want to see. Monitor trending topics within those demographics, observe how they interact with other brands, and get a better sense of their values, desires, and dispositions.
5. Cater to specific search habits.
Finally, find out if your demographic has any telling search habits that can help you optimize your efforts to target them specifically. For example, Bing tends to attract older audiences and people with niche search needs, and some demographics disproportionately search using mobile devices, or tools like voice search. Learn these search habits and cater to them throughout the duration of your campaign. Don’t get trapped in thinking all forms of search are the same.
Note that you shouldn’t necessarily limit yourself to one audience for the duration of your campaign. If your brand targets multiple different demographics, it’s possible—and in some cases, advisable—to split your SEO efforts between them. Of course, if you’d like a more conservative system, you can start with one audience and expand to others as you gain prominence in that area.
Audience targeting doesn’t need to manifest in any one form, but it should be considered an integral part of any campaign. With higher-quality targets, any traffic gains you make will become more valuable, and your overall campaign ROI will multiply.
How are you targeting your current audience? What tools do you use to help you with targeting and demographic research?